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Chinese Literature in Translation

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Pathlight Magazine

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A quarterly literary journal featuring translations of the best contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry.

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Yu HuaLiao YiwuChi LiWu MeizhenWu Yan

Yu Hua

Liao Yiwu

Chi Li

Wu Meizhen

Wu Yan

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We publish a complete free-to-read short story on the web every Thursday. The newest story is below. See all stories.

Dark Alley

by Wang Anyi, translated by Canaan Morse

dark alley

The gloom of the dark alley is partly a result of being hidden from the sun, partly the effect of popular embellishment. Everyone who grew up in the alleys has heard the threats from their parents – “Fuss, and I’ll throw you into the dark alley!” – and been scared into silence. When that generation became mothers and fathers, they used the same words to frighten their children. Two generations of rumor had, you might say, created the dark all...

Recent Posts

Author Yan Lianke: The Reign of "温暖的文学"

Speaking recently at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chinese author Yan Lianke (閻連科) spoke about the ominous rise of a "warm and fuzzy" kind of Chinese literature (温暖的文学) that the government, readers and critics all find acceptable. Here is an excerpt from notes taken at the talk (thus they may not be his exact words) which appear in an article 中國文學的唱衰者 at the newly launched (and interesting) Chinese-language web site, theinitiam.com:

中國文學進入新的冷凍期,但絕對不會回到80年代清除精神污染時期,那是要排除所有西方文化對我們的影響。今天的中國讀者非常了解世界文學的現狀。

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By Bruce Humes, May 1 '16, 7:51p.m.

7 comments

China's Thinkingdom Media Invests in Editions Philippe Picquier

According to a 2016-04-28 report (战略投资) in The Paper (澎湃讯), Thinkingdom Media Group Ltd (新经典文化) has made a “strategic investment” in France’s Editions Philippe Picquier. The report does not specify the $ amount or portion of the French publisher that is now in Chinese hands. Picquier is already a major French-language publisher of Chinese fiction writing including titles by Yu Hua, Wang Anyi, Alai, Su Tong, Han Shaogong, Bi feiyu, Chi Zijian, Ge Fei, Liang Hong and Li Er.

Some 15,000 copies of Wang Anyi’s 《长恨歌》(Le Chant des regrets éternels) have sold in French, according to the news item. Picquier's first venture into the world of translated Chinese popular fiction publishing was apparently Wei Hui's naughty Shanghai Baby, back in the early 2000s.

It will be interesting to see if and how Thinkingdom uses Picquier as a platform for the campaign to bring more contemporary Chinese literature in translation to the Francophone world.

By Bruce Humes, April 30 '16, 7:44p.m.

6 comments

"White Deer Plain" Author Chen Zhongshi Dies

Chen Zhongshi, Shaanxi-based author of the 20th-century classic, White Deer Plain (白鹿原, 陈忠实著), has died.

Three thoughts:

1) White Deer Plain has been published in French, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Anyone working on the English, and if not, why not?

2) The novel was published in 1993. Any insights into why he wrote relatively little thereafter?

3) How to render the first line of White Deer Plain --- especially ---:

白嘉轩后来引以豪壮的是一生里娶过七房女人。

By Bruce Humes, April 29 '16, 7:47p.m.

5 comments

Jade laptops and a library of books...

Natascha Bruce talks about starting out as a Chinese-to-English translator: "....it actually never occurred to me to make the link between literature existing in translation, and there being real people out there creating those translations. I don’t know what I would have said I thought happened, if pushed? That once you have studied Chinese for one hundred years and can prove, for certain, that you know everything – will catch every single hidden reference to a Tang poem without missing a beat – there’s a special ceremony and you are given a laptop made of jade and a library of books, and told to go forth and be the person to make them accessible to the English-reading world, something mystical like that."

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By Nicky Harman, April 21 '16, 4:11p.m.

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Interview with Helen Wang, Translator of Cao Wenxuan

The big recent news in Chinese children's literature is Cao Wenxuan's winning of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award, sometimes called the "Nobel Prize for Children's Literature". It's a big deal inside China, where the media closely watches the progress of the prize.

Like the Nobel, the prize is given to a writer for their entire oeuvre, not for any book in particular, but despite this everyone still points to works in particular. In this case, that's probably Bronze and Sunflower, translated by Helen Wang and published in the UK last year by Walker Books. In honor of the win, we conducted an email interview with Helen about her views on Cao's works (in case you didn't know, Helen is also one of the editors of Read Paper Republic, and is currently to be found representing PR at the London Book Fair). See below for the full interview.

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By Eric Abrahamsen, April 13 '16, 5:42a.m.

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Call for Summer Interns

Paper Republic is looking for an intern in Beijing to work with us on literary and publishing events this year, from late spring to early fall. Think you might be interested? Drop us a line!

What’s going on this year

In addition to our usual activities, Paper Republic is running two larger events this year, and need more hands on deck. In late June we’re hosting a publishing fellowship, where publishers and editors will come from around the world to spend a week in Beijing, getting to know Chinese writers and publishers. Then in late August is the Beijing International Book Fair, when we’ll be conducting a small literary festival as part of the Fair.

Who we’re looking for

We need someone in Beijing with an interest (and preferably experience) in literature, publishing, and translation. We’re really hoping to find someone who is strong in both English and Chinese, but don’t mind what nationality you are. We need someone who’s organized, motivated and creative, and who thrives on the unexpected.

We need someone who can dedicate at least fifteen hours week to the job, preferably more, and who can join us at our office in Beijing at least two days a week.

What you’ll be doing

Helping us plan literary and publishing events, arranging itineraries and schedules, writing news copy, liaising with publishers and editors, and picking famous writers up from the airport.

What we can provide you

A fun working environment with entertaining co-workers, a chance to meet all manner of people, a small monthly stipend, letters of recommendation, good coffee, and some unique experiences.

What next?

If you think you fit the bill, and are available from around April to the end of August, get in touch with us at info@paper-republic.orgs. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

By Eric Abrahamsen, March 30 '16, 1:40a.m.

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2016 DREAMLIST -- our readers recommend Chinese books for translation

fyl

At the start of 2016, we decided to revisit the 2009 dream-list of untranslated Chinese novels recommended by the Paper Republic team. We wanted to see which of them had been translated (see update here), and to invite our readers to recommend titles for a new 2016 list.

Translators and agents, if you are working on samples, we’d like to add this information to the database – we can tag them as “excerpts” - you can search for a list of excerpts here. If you tell us that an "excerpt” is available from [a named person or job-title] at [literary agency], we can add this too! Think of it as free publicity!

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By Helen Wang, March 7 '16, 8:32a.m.

3 comments

New Ban on Homosexuality: Will it Extend to Published Chinese Fiction?

"Depictions of homosexuality, extramarital affairs, underage love and the supernatural are no longer allowed in television dramas under new regulations in mainland China," according to a report at Hong Kong Free Press (New Rules).

These rules are apparently already coming into affect. According to WSJ's China RealTime, " 'Heroin' (also known as “Addiction” in Chinese), a 15-episode Web drama about romance among teenage boys, was earlier this week taken down from major Chinese video streaming sites." This suggests that the ban applies not just to TV.

Will this ban on the portrayal of homosexuality, and "other abnormal sexual relationships and behavior," be extended to published writing as our man on the ground in Nanhai, XJP, exerts his Victorian values? Hard to say. For now, it would be neat to have a list of Chinese fiction --- particularly translated fiction or Chinese fiction you'd like to see translated --- touching on LGBT romance, lifestyles and issues. Please add to the list via the comments section.

By Bruce Humes, March 4 '16, 7:10p.m.

6 comments

That Damned Thing She Said - now coming to Beijing!

tdtss

As we announced last month, on March 14th London's Free Word Centre will be hosting "That Damned Thing She Said", a speed bookclubbing event at which translators Roddy Flagg, Nicky Harman, Emily Jones and Helen Wang will be discussing short stories by authors Feng Tang, Fu Yuli, Li Jingrui and Liu Qingbang. (You can find out more and purchase tickets here.)

We are delighted to announce that we will be holding the same event in Beijing as part of the Bookworm Literary Festival on March 12th. The China line-up: Eric Abrahamsen, Dave Haysom, Nick Stember, plus one more participant TBC.
UPDATE: We can now reveal that our fourth participant will be the writer Karoline Kan!

Tickets are available to purchase now online or at the Bookworm.

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By David Haysom, February 21 '16, 6a.m.

3 comments

LAST CALL FOR Recommended Untranslated Books

untranslated

Back in 2009 the Paper Republic team put together this dream-list of untranslated Chinese novels. It seems like it's about time to revisit the original list, see what progress has been made, and put together a new 2016 edition!
We're calling on you, our readers, to make your suggestions! Tell us about the Chinese novels you'd most like to see translated. Get your suggestions to us by Sunday 28th February, and we'll publish the 2016 dream-list in the first week of March.

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By David Haysom, February 21 '16, 12a.m.

23 comments